How to get on with your flatmates

by Maria Clark

One of the most stressful things about the thought of coming to university is sharing your accommodation with strangers. Even for extroverts, not knowing who you will be sharing your new home with can be very scary.

I didn’t find out my flat and room number until the night before I moved in, which meant that there was very little time to find anyone in my accommodation. However, it didn’t pose a problem at all, and I love my flat.

Here are some of my tips for getting on with your flatmates:

Three students in a campus kitchen, two are chatting at the table and one is cooking at the hob
Just keep going into the kitchen and talking to each other

1. When you first meet: don’t expect everyone to be sitting in the kitchen and waiting for you.

Moving-in day is a very emotional experience and most students will be busy with unpacking and saying goodbye to their families. Try and introduce yourself to your new flatmates if you can, but be aware that they may not want to talk immediately, and it might take a few hours (or even a few days) to actually sit down with them and get to know them.

It might be awkward to start with, and you might want to go and hide in your room, but things will get better as you get to know each other.

2. Organisation and communication are key

It’s a really good idea to make a group chat as soon as you can and get the entire flat involved in it. We use our group chat to remind people about bins, alert them when we will have guests around, and to let them know what time we will be in.

Try and organise a bin rota, and make sure that everybody has the same amount of space in the cupboards and fridges.

A noticeboard surrounded by gold tinsel
Our bin rota keeps us organised
A female student facing away from the camera doing the washing up
Always make sure to wash up!

3. Show respect for each other

This is the most important piece of advice I can give you. When sharing communal facilities with other people, giving them respect is extremely important. This involves keeping the kitchen clean (washing up after yourself, putting your dishes away); keeping the noise down late at night and letting others know when you have guests.

4. Organise activities together

This really depends on your flat and the accommodation you are in, but it is a very good idea to try and organise things with your flatmates. This could be watching a film together, going into town and going to events, or even just arranging to eat dinner at the same time. You can celebrate birthdays and different events together - for example, we decorated our kitchen for Christmas!

5. Give them space

However, it’s equally as important to recognise that not everybody will want to get involved or spend lots of time with you. It may be that they have better friends outside of the flat that they like to see, or just need to spend a bit of time alone, and you should respect that. Giving your flatmates some privacy and peace and quiet may be exactly what they need, and you will get along better as a result.

A group of three male and one female student, two standing and two kneeling

Finally: it’s not guaranteed that you will get along with all your flatmates

Flats are allocated randomly within your specific college and accommodation type, and it may not be the case that you get on with everyone. You might have different interests and different personalities, but this should not be a cause for stress. As long as you treat all your flatmates with respect and recognise that you may not be close to everyone, then your flat should be a comfortable working and living environment that you can all enjoy.

I have been really lucky in my flat this year and get on really well with everyone. I hope you do too!